Activision Blizzard is ramping up development of its planned Call of Duty movie, with Sicario 2: Soldado director Stefano Sollima in talks to helm the project based on the immensely popular first-person-shooter series.
Sources tell Variety that negotiations with Sollima are ongoing as the video game giant pushes on with plans to make Call of Duty a big screen cinematic universe to rival even the enormous success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The project is being led by Activision's film wing, Activision Blizzard Studios. Plot details are under wraps for now, and the film is still without a distributor, though finding one shouldn't be a problem.
Activision stated its intention to develop a Call of Duty movie in November 2015, during an investor call.
"Another near-term initiative for Activision Blizzard Studios will be the development of a robust cinematic universe based on the Call of Duty franchise," the company announced.
"Activision Blizzard Studios envisions a series of Call of Duty feature films as well as the possibility of television adaptations."
At the time Activision was targeting a 2018/2019 release window for the film. Should Sollima sign on soon and pre-production enter full swing, a release next year will still be feasible.
In April 2017 Activision Blizzard Studios presidents Stacey Sher and Nick van Dyk spoke to The Guardian about their ambitions. "We have plotted out many years," Sher said. "We put together this group of writers to talk about where we were going.
"There'll be a film that feels more like Black Ops, the story behind the story. The Modern Warfare series looks at what it's like to fight a war with the eyes of the world on you. And then maybe something that is more of a hybrid, where you are looking at private, covert operations, while a public operation is going on."
The aim is to capture the feel of the game releases, which are released annually by three developers operating on a three-year-cycle. In 2015 Treyarch released Black Ops 3, in 2016 series creators Infinity Ward released the sci-fi inflected Infinite Warfare, and last year saw the series return to its roots with Sledgehammer Games' Call of Duty: WW2.
This year, Treyarch are believed to be developing a continuation of the Black Ops series, which has proven Call of Duty's most popular since the Modern Warfare trilogy propelled it to dizzying sales heights a decade ago.
Sicario 2: Soldado is the follow-up to Denis Villeneuve's celebrated crime thriller, and sees Benicio del Toro and Josh Brolin return. It is the first major Hollywood movie for director Sollima, and is set to be released on 29 June.